Reflecting on my placement year at university

During the third year of my university course I participated in a placement year where I worked and learnt skills whilst also taking part in distance learning modules which covered my academic learning and assessments. I managed to secure a placement at a company called Peregrine Live Foods; they specialise in reptile supplies, feeds, and exotic animals.  During the placement I was working in the livestock department, this department is responsible for the care of all live animals for sale as pets; and also breeding stocks for certain species. The placement year had its good and bad points throughout but overall was an insightful and educational placement. I am going to go through and reflect on my experiences from the start to the end of my placement; following a reflective template model (Gibbs 1988) which helps to critique and analyse experiences fully. (Husebø et al., 2015)

The first aspect of the placement was having an interview in order to make sure I was a suitable candidate for the company. I was very nervous and anticipated questions which I would struggle to answer. I wanted to make a good impression so made sure that I was there a little e early and was dressed in a smart manner. On arrival I was greeted and had a conversation with a recruitment officer about my course at university and what it entailed, I was asked a few questions such as “so what do you know about this company” Although I was nervous I tried to answer as best as I could Luckily I had prepared and made sure I had researched the company so was ready for such a question. After this I was given a tour of the facilities and introduced to key members of staff, I was able to ask question and show interest in certain areas. At then end of the process I was given a formal place and accepted the placement. Although I was nervous, I feel like the interview process went very well and I managed to portray myself in a way that represent myself ad my university in a professional manner. If there were any negatives that I could pick up on and improve for another time; it would probably be to make sure I ask important questions after accepting an offer to help a smooth process afterwards. This was because after accepting my place I was not certain on the hours I was expected to do and how it would fit in with my distance learning, this was resolved over email but there was a little confusion at first. Next time I would be certain to ask these questions in person and resolve as early as possible as it may have not worked out as easy as it did time.

My few weeks were exciting, and I managed to learn a lot of new information. I was shadowing the team leader of the department for a few week’s so that I was able to grips with the daily routine and learn how to undertake certain tasks. I was unfamiliar with a lot of processes and husbandry of certain species, this is because my educational background revolved around equine or small animal studies whereas my placement was based on reptiles and exotics which I have had no previous background in. I made this clear when I was shadowing the team leader and they made sure to help me learn the basics quickly and gave me the support I needed to gain knowledge on the species I was working with. Although this put me at a small disadvantage during the first few days I did not let this dishearten me, instead it made me strive to learn and ask questions to the staff in the department whenever I was unsure or wanted to know something. I was able to use the experiences of the other team members to help with my own growth in the industry, especially when it came to the husbandry and breeding of certain species. By the time I was three months in I had settled comfortably and felt like I had a lot more knowledge and understanding then I did when I started. I was able to pick up complex terms being used and take part in all areas of the department.

During the placement I also had to juggle in distance learning modules, other part time work and social/family life. This required a lot of time planning and at pints was very difficult to fit it all in. At first the distance learning took a back seat whilst I settled in at the placement, however this meant catching up at a later date which added a larger load of work and was difficult to fit in to an already crammed week. The distance learning was aimed at providing the academic part of the year in small parts which were also given small recommend deadlines in order to get assignments done in small pieces every few weeks. This worked well and was only recommended; so that as students we cold get it done in our own time and whenever it fitted in. The first few months went well but after that it became difficult to juggle my part time work and fit in time for the academic modules. I fell behind and struggled to catch up; this ended up in rushing some pieces and grades were not as good as they could have been. I found that I had to much to fit into each week as my placement only gave me one day of during the week and then the weekend was always taken by working my part time job in order to cover my finances. This in the end gave me no choice but to rely on family for a small bit of financial aid in order to free up a few weekends and make sure that all the distance Learning outcomes had been completed and take a weight of my shoulders. In the future if I was to do something like this again I would consider the work load and make sure that enough time was allocated so that the work is able to be completed at a good standard and that it is maintained and not left till the last minute, this may entail looking and applying for financial aid and support or possibly finding a paid placements so that any time off can be used sufficiently.

The placement helped me to gain knowledge and grow experience with reptiles and exotics, I managed to learn skills such as basic handling, feeding techniques and breeding templates. When I started, I was very sacred of spiders and some invertebrate species, however from gaining knowledge and learning about them my confidence grew and I was able to care and handle for some species. Spiders was always one that I couldn’t do much with due to this nature however by the end of my placement I managed to gain the confidence to work with small spiderlings care for them.  Large spiders are still a fear of mine but in the future with regular work around them I hope to grow the confidence to start doing piece of work that involve them.

The placement entailed of me doing three 8-hour days every week, but I remained flexible on these days as to when the provider needed me. This gave the provider assurance that I am I flexible worker and will do what I can to help when needed. I thought It was important to remain as flexible as possible to show good employability. Showing good employability was a key point as I hoped a job was maybe available at the end of my placement, I made my myself as employable as possible to being flexible, arriving on time and working at a good speed whilst completing tasks suitably. I also stayed late on a few occasions to help out for the dame reasons, however a few times this also maximised my learning experiences and the company often received shipments of animals from abroad late a night and by helping I was able to learn about new species and there setups. It was also fascinating to see how the animals are packed for transport on a plane from counties such as Vietnam.

During the last few months of my placement I was approached by a manager and had a meeting with them, I did not  know what to expect however the meeting went better then I could have ever expected; during previous discussions about my course and my future pans I had spoken about my aims to go to vet school afterwards but that it may not be financially applicable and his may be the downfall that holds be back. During this meeting they laid out plans and offered to fund my future degree and support me though it as a company; entailing me to work for them and help them set up a vets practice afterwards as a form of pay back in essence. I was overwhelmed by the offer and we had a conversation about it all, they gave me the opportunity to chat to whoever I needed to and sort out application processes. This gave me and still gives me a lot to decide and figure out with eh company. However, the offer is amazing and to me shows that my hard work and keen attitude did not go unnoticed.

Another important highlight of the placement was during the end when I was asked to help represent the company at a summer nobs/ Carrere fair at my own university. I went along and was able to help talk to other students about the company and what they have to offer. The students were able to relate to the company due to its animal nature and seemed interested, because I am a student at the university the students found it easy to approach the stand. The fair helped me to test my knowledge and everything I leaned during my placement as students asked all sorts of questions which I was encouraged to answer by my colleagues. Although I felt like I had learnt a lot some of the questions did test me and I wasn’t sure on a few, this made me go back after and look those up for future reference though.  

As an overview the placement year was an adventure and helped me to broaden my understanding on animals to reptiles and exotics which I may not have had the chance to do otherwise. Although I did not know much at first, I was not looked down upon but instead encouraged to learn and ask questions whenever needed. The placement shows me that my employability skills as good and they they managed to pay off as I was given and exciting offer and also a job at the end.  Although there were a few bad points and parts were not interesting, most of the placement was good and went well and a lot was learnt with good outcomes.


Husebø, S. E., O’Regan, S. and Nestel, D. (2015) ‘Reflective Practice and Its Role in Simulation.’ Clinical Simulation in Nursing. (Theory for Simulation), 11(8) pp. 368–375.

Animals in research “Using protected species in a developmental stage outside of the definition of (protected animal) as alternatives to using protected animals.”


When living animals are used in research they come under many guidelines and rulings, and to be able to use them people must have regulations and paperwork in place making sure they follow set guidelines in place. An animal is considered alive when it is breathing of its own accord and has brain activity, an animal can only be deemed dead when there is permanent cessation of the heart or no brain function. (Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, n.d.)  According ASPA any living vertebrate or cephalopod is considered a protected animal. These animals can not be used in any kind of scientific procedures or practical’s without having licences and guidelines set in place. However ASPA only considers the animals protected at a certain stage for example, fish and cephalopods are considered  a protected animal once they are capable of independent feeding (Brown, 2015) whereas mammals are taken as a protected animal from the point of  two thirds of its gestational period(BPS Publications, n.d.).  By having this knowledge, it allows some scientists and research groups to be able to do studies on these animals without having such strict guidelines and regulations. Legally the animals can be involved in science studies if they don’t breach the stage of when they become and protected animal and if they are terminated before they reach this stage. Although this makes things slightly easier for some researchers as they can avoid what is considered a protected animal, many people argue ethical reasons against it as an alternative and would rather have researchers use methods such as Insilco to avoid using any animal or foetus at all.


As mentioned, using animals in a developmental stage before they are considered a protected animal is an alternative being used today in science. Although not everyone agrees is does follow the law and set guidelines by ASPA. Many researchers use this alternative in studies as it can work out cheaper, there is less hassle in getting licenses in place and the fact that sometimes they may be looking at something that happens within the gestational period and the foetal development (Fatehullah et al., 2016). All mammals have different gestational period lengths and that’s why ASPA states that the animal is considered protected after two thirds of an individual species length. For example  ewe has a gestational period of 152 days(Anderson et al., 1981) this means the foetuses can be used for experiment up to day 100 of gestation. Whereas cattle have a length of 283 days(Andersen and Plum, 1965) and rats 21-24 days(Meehan et al., 2017). This information shows us how gestational periods can differ massively and researchers must be extremely carful to make sure they do not carry on with any study past the point of when two thirds of the length is finished.

A recent study carried out shows how the industry can benefit from studies on animals in the developmental stage. The study in question looked at sheep embryos and looking at how genetic science can be used to create transgenic animals (Crispo et al., 2015)The embryos and foetuses where used for the study within the first two thirds of the gestational period so no protected animals of such were used in the study. The study benefits the farming and agricultural world as it can support the transgenic animals being made so farmers could potentially alter the way they want their offspring to be. For example, farmers only really want female chickens for egg laying and meat, or in the equine world they may want to alter the colour or potentially conformation

When thinking about ASPA and looking at guidelines and in this case using an alternative to protected animals in research studies the 3rs always come into play, (replacement, refinement, reduction)  Replacement looks at trying to replacing protecting animals with another method, in this case using animals that are of a developmental stage before specified and protected by ASPA. However, some may argue that even using animals at this stage is wrong and unethical and that you could replace them completely with other more conventional methods such as computer models (Ohtake et al., 2018). This research study looks at how in silico methods can be used alongside in vitro and in vivo to help look at skin sensitivity to different toxins. By using an in-silico approach, they have even further replaced the use of animals.

Refinement looks refining the study to try and minimize any pain, distress or long-lasting suffering to the animals used in research(Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, n.d.) In this particular case refining the use of animals in the developmental stage would be making sure that the embryos or foetus do not live long enough and are terminated as soon as they are finished with. Although some may see this as unethical as a scientist you are preventing the animal from any long lasting pain distress or harm that may come as a side effect from the work you have carried out (Curzer et al., 2016).

Reduction looks as reducing the number of animals you will use in a study to try and reduce the number of animals being used and harmed within the tests. In this case it would be to minimize the amount of developmental animals being used as and ethical reason and so that there are not so many being used that they get wasted and end up being terminated for no reason.(Curzer et al., 2016)

Using animals in a developmental stage as an alternative to protected animals be using all the 3RS mentioned above and is a perfect example of how scientists will try to reduce always using protected animals nowadays. Although maybe it is considered unethical some studies can not always use other methods and need to use this method. An example being a recent study on piglets in a developmental stage(Gasthuys et al., 2017) the study used the foetuses as an aid for testing pharmaceutical drugs, this would have ben done on computer models too but they cant avoid using the foetuses as otherwise it may cause harm to living animals f not first tested under these circumstances.





There should always be an attempt to try and limit the use of protected animals through the use of the 3RS in animal research and testing. Although this method may be seen as unethical it sometimes can not be avoided and without this stage of testing there would not be as much commercially available products within the animal world. The use of animals in this stage benefits so many others and has an impact on the industry. However, if possible the 3RS should still be applied where needed to further reduce and refine procedures and only use animals in these stages if completely necessary.


Andersen, H. and Plum, M. (1965) ‘Gestation Length and Birth Weight in Cattle and Buffaloes: A Review1, 2.’ Journal of Dairy Science, 48(9) pp. 1224–1235.

Anderson, G. B., Bradford, G. E. and Cupps, P. T. (1981) ‘Length of gestation in ewes carrying lambs of two different breeds.’ Theriogenology, 16(1) pp. 119–129.

Brown, C. (2015) ‘Fish intelligence, sentience and ethics.’ Animal Cognition, 18(1) pp. 1–17.

Crispo, M., Vilariño, M., dos Santos-Neto, P. C., Núñez-Olivera, R., Cuadro, F., Barrera, N., Mulet, A. P., Nguyen, T. H., Anegón, I. and Menchaca, A. (2015) ‘Embryo development, fetal growth and postnatal phenotype of eGFP lambs generated by lentiviral transgenesis.’ Transgenic Research, 24(1) pp. 31–41.

Curzer, H. J., Perry, G., Wallace, M. C. and Perry, D. (2016) ‘The Three Rs of Animal Research: What they Mean for the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and Why.’ Science and Engineering Ethics, 22(2) pp. 549–565.

Fatehullah, A., Tan, S. H. and Barker, N. (2016) ‘Organoids as an in vitro model of human development and disease.’ Nature Cell Biology, 18(3) pp. 246–254.

Gasthuys, E., Devreese, M., Millecam, J., Sys, S., Vanderperren, K., Delanghe, J., Vande Walle, J., Heyndrickx, M. and Croubels, S. (2017) ‘Postnatal Maturation of the Glomerular Filtration Rate in Conventional Growing Piglets As Potential Juvenile Animal Model for Preclinical Pharmaceutical Research.’ Frontiers in Pharmacology, 8.

Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (n.d.) GOV.UK. [Online] [Accessed on 9th May 2019]

Meehan, C., Harms, L., Frost, J. D., Barreto, R., Todd, J., Schall, U., Shannon Weickert, C., Zavitsanou, K., Michie, P. T. and Hodgson, D. M. (2017) ‘Effects of immune activation during early or late gestation on schizophrenia-related behaviour in adult rat offspring.’ Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. (Perinatal Inflammation), 63, July, pp. 8–20.

Reflective practice as evidence for decision making

Do you need help making decisions and improving for future practice? if so then reflective practice (RP) alongside evidence-based practice (EBP) are the only tools you need. In the post we are going to tell you how both RP and EBP are used in professional fields and how they benefit individuals work and future decision making. Were also going to compare them but also how they sit hand in hand to complement each other within practice.

Reflective Practice

FIGURE 1 (showing a recent model of reflective practice)

There is an increase in need for Reflective practice due to an increase in professions  since around 1983. (Lishman, 2015) The whole idea behind the concept is to critically analyse and interrogate professional practice in a way and to help find better ways and improvements for the future; in the UK and USA the idea of reflective practice is becoming a necessity for those in fields such as teaching and science. It is now even beginning to enter into degrees and is seen as a useful skill for future employers. (Trelfa, 2016) Reflective practice is used as a mean to try and refocus, improve and increase satisfaction in a professional’s work, it is used informally by nurses all the time as they write reflective journals as part of their learning. (Horton-Deutsch and Sherwood, 2017) Even though there is such a push for RP in recent years there is a lack of recent models which guide people in the right directions, some people take it that they just need to add something new into their practice every time to make it better;  however (Rodgers and LaBoskey,) suggest that the best way of reflective practice is to just transform and adapt what you are already doing. One model that has been recently been  released is (NC Reflection Model, 2010.) Shown in figure 1  the model clearly identifies  how reflective practice can be used by professionals in today’s world, before models such as this have started to be released most people would use (Gibbs 1998) as a guideline, however this is now outdated and its tome for more recent models to be used which fit better into today’s world.


Evidence based practice

ebp model
Figure 2 (showing a recent model of EBP)

Evidence based practice is described as finding the gaps and missing pieces in literature and decision making of professionals in order to see if they comply with a patients needs. (Roussel, 2016) Roussel also created this model of EBP which helps people to be able to integrate it into their everyday practice. The model  is shown in figure 2 and informs us how we can use EBP to begin filling  in the missing  gaps within industries and practice and innovate for the future and improve patient care. The use or evidence based practice is now massive and used widely in healthcare as well as science, now it can be known as “Evidence based healthcare” Practitioners use it to improve patient car by sharing information with colleagues and study’s on databases, the idea being that they can all feed from each-other and improve their practice. (Hamer and Collinson, 2014)  EBP feeds into the science world simply because of its use of “evidence” one example of how its being used in the science filed is Cognitive behavioural therapy; its used as a strong model for psychotherapy due to it having a strong backbone of evidence behind it. (Dobson and Dobson, 2018)  It is important  to use EBP to make key clinical decisions as most people today use databases and studies to implement on there decisions within practice; however barriers such as time, resources and lack of understating key material can sometimes get int the way and cause barriers for some people. (Mota da Silva et al., 2015)

Comparison and overlap

When using both evidence-based practice and reflective practice they sit nicely hand in hand. Although they are different ideas they share the same fundamental aspects. (Thompson and Burns, 2008) If for example we take out two models from above we can see how they feed from different things and don’t follow the same trends, but we use steps one to five from the reflective model within the EBP model in order to fill in the gaps for and be able to innovate. And vice versa we use evidence-based practice in order to be able to critique ourselves and reflect on our practice. Both schemes are useful alone and together for example reflection helps us learn as we elaborate and correct ourselves from before (Mezirow, 2018.)  Whereas evidence based practice is a method used to bridge the gap between scientific findings and patient needs.(Pubmed et al., n.d.) When used together they prove a strong a sufficient way to improve professional practice in all fields and create better decision making as well as laying bed of knowledge for others to feed from.(Addis, 2002)


As we can see from above reflective practice and evidence-based practice are becoming a huge part of professionalism in today’s world. It is beginning to find its way into degree programmes and is seen as am employable skill for the future so is good to have an idea about and show your understanding and how you can apply it to your own work. Both EBP and RP are helping to improve our future by encouraging critical analysis of evidence and using it to support out decisions in order to improve patient care. Although it is Widely used and being encouraged by many professionals’ others don’t have time or resources. This is something I believe should be worked on so that all professionals in all fields are on the same page. Doctors for example may not have the time to critically read and understand data from studies and misinterpret the findings in a way which may not be best for the patient. We should support professionals such as this in order to help them make the best decisions and help them also reflect.


Addis, M. E. (2002) ‘Methods for Disseminating Research Products and Increasing Evidence-Based Practice: Promises, Obstacles, and Future Directions.’ Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 9(4) pp. 367–378.

Dobson, D. and Dobson, K. S. (2018) Evidence-Based Practice of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Second Edition. Guilford Publications.

Hamer, S. and Collinson, G. (2014) Achieving Evidence-Based Practice: A Handbook for Practitioners. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Lishman, J. (2015) Handbook for Practice Learning in Social Work and Social Care, Third Edition: Knowledge and Theory. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Mezirow, J. (n.d.) ‘A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning’ p. 6.

Mota da Silva, T., da Cunha Menezes Costa, L., Garcia, A. N. and Costa, L. O. P. (2015) ‘What do physical therapists think about evidence-based practice? A systematic review.’ Manual Therapy, 20(3) pp. 388–401.

Pubmed, S., Wensing, M. and Profile, S. (n.d.) Adopting Best Evidence in Practice ONE OF THE MOST CONSISTENT FINDINGS in health.

Roussel, L. A. (2016) Evidence-Based Practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Thompson, D. N. and Burns, H. K. (2008) ‘Reflection: an essential element of evidence-based practice.’ Journal of emergency nursing: JEN: official publication of the Emergency Department Nurses Association, 34(3) pp. 246–248.


In this reflection I am going to be talking about the outcome and my performance in the sector studies exam and how I could have improved. I will also be reflection on my academic performance throughout this first year of university and referring to my other self-reflections on maths and chemistry from the fundamentals module.

I knew my weak spots before preparing for this exam, so this was where I was going to start. If we look back at my other reflections my weak spots in maths were the more complex calculations and the reason being as I hadn’t used m maths skills for two years before staring my degree. I had set myself some targets and wanted to use (Reed, 2011) a book which was recommended in the fundamentals module for improving maths skills and further reading in the subject. Since then I have used this book and other resources in order to improve my understanding and help me with the calculations. Other than just studying I have also spent a lot of time throughout this year sharing my knowledge and helping my peers in my class, they have done the same and it has boosted us academically more than just revising alone would have. It is said that peer work and teaching others helps to retain information better. (Lin, 2007)

Chemistry was always my weakest spot during the first semester of my degree but throughout this year I have improved dramatically much like with my maths skills. I have learnt a lot and managed to accomplish things I never thought I would have. At the begging of the year I struggled with understanding complex molecule structures and bonding, I have used (Crowe and Bradshaw, 2014) a book available in the library. It breaks things down and helped me in class as I had a foundation to rely on and build on top off. Like with my maths I have also used my peers to boost my knowledge in chemistry throughout this year. I Have learnt that it is not always best to get disheartened if I haven’t understood something and go over it time and time again but instead to come back at another time and start from scratch in order to have a clear mind and help to understand it better. (McLeod, 1989)

In my maths data handling exam, I achieved a grade of 61%. I am quite happy with this grade and feel like it shows I worked hard and have managed to learn well and keep my maths skills up to date throughout this first year. Looking at the exam I can see where I lost some marks and how I could improve next time in order to achieve a better grade in the future in similar modules or subjects.

I lost some marks on the first page which was questioning about referencing and asked to write a reference in full, from a given journal. I didn’t get the marks for this question as I didn’t fully know what order to put the information and ow to write it out in full; I believe this is because I rely on Zotero to do all my referencing for my and never have to use this skill myself. People are becoming too reliant and depend on tools and in the future robots to carry out simple tasks that they forget the skill themselves. (Automata, Languages, and Machines, 1974) I think it is important to refresh theses skills and remember these skills to pass down to younger generations, so they too understand.


Another set of marks I lost was calculating standard error, In the exam I had totally forgot how to do this and left it blank. I think for the future and I need to look over this and keep refreshing myself, so I don’t forget. By refreshing subjects we bring them back to the front of our memory, if we don’t do this then past information that is never used will be lost and forgotten. (‘Refreshing Recollection,’ 1912)


Looking back at this first year of my degree and this maths test I can see how I have used resources and my peers to achieve my best and learn the basics. I feel like have learnt enough for a foundation to fall back onto in my approach to the second year and that I have the right skills and time management to improve further and achieve better grades and get a better understanding of the subjects. I know looking at my maths exam how I could have improved and what to study to try and get into my head. I lost silly marks and hope to remember this information for the future.

Targets for the future:

  • To revise referencing and not to become dependent on Zotero to much
  • To refresh skills and knowledge so as not to forget things that are not being used very often
  • To arrange a time management plan for the summer so that I don’t become lazy and keep on top of things in preparation for the second year



Automata, Languages, and Machines (1974). Academic Press.

Crowe, J. and Bradshaw, T. (2014) Chemistry for the biosciences: the essential concepts.

Lin, H.-F. (2007) ‘Knowledge sharing and firm innovation capability: an empirical study.’ International Journal of Manpower, 28(3/4) pp. 315–332.

McLeod, D. B. (1989) ‘The Role of Affect in Mathematical Problem Solving.’ In Affect and Mathematical Problem Solving. Springer, New York, NY, pp. 20–36.

Reed, M. B. (2011) core maths for the biosciences.

‘Refreshing Recollection’ (1912) Dickinson Law Review, 17, October, p. 29.







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Development plan

Currently I am an undergraduate in my first year at university studying a degree in bio – veterinary science. After completing this in three years’ time my plans are to get into vet school as a graduate and train to become a vet. My hopes are that I should be able to do this but there are many obstacles and items that that need addressing or completing to accomplish this.

In order to get into vet school first of all I need to get good grades and contact the admissions team of a few of the universes I hope to get in to, in order to get as much information as possible and know exactly what I need to achieve in y current studies. I already know they are going to be high grade such as a 1st or 2:1 minimum.

I need to look professional and stand out as there are going to be many applicants and the universities are going to want to know what is special about me. I have recently met up and had a chat with Professor Brendan Corcoran, who is currently Personal Chair of Veterinary Cardiopulmonary Medicine at Edinburgh vet school. He gave me some good advice and tips about this matter and how to increase my chances of getting into vet school and which ones to apply for. He told me to get work experience of every filed possible and start building a portfolio from now. My aims are to get a week in as many fields as I can such as equine, small animals, animal hospitals, agricultural/farm animals and even a few days at an abattoir. This wide dense amount of work experience in a varied number of fields will look good and gives me knowledge of every are that I will need to know about and come into play with veterinary studies in some shape or form.

Another way I am going to make myself have a better chance of accomplishing my goal is by collecting as much CPD as I can whilst studying my current degree. I am already a member of the Royal Society of Biology and this gives me so much room to explore and collect this CPD.  One of my targets this year is to become a more proactive member and start to use this a resource better as well as maybe attending some of the conferences.

Although I plan collect all this work experience and a log of all my CPD I still have two main problems. One is funding and the other is my English skills. Funding is going to be difficult but when speaking to Prof Corcoran he told me to contact admissions and finance at the universities and he also mentioned some sort of funding for graduates going to vet school. I forgot the information of the funding he was telling me about. I plan to get in touch with him again and have a chat about this, so I can be clearer on the subject. My English skills are another obstacle that is going to get in the way. During my studies so far, my work has always been consistent and okay but the main thing stopping me from achieving higher grades in my opinion is the way I write and the structure of my work; including scientific writing.  In order to improve in this area, I plan on using tools online in English writing techniques and maybe attending some workshops held at mu university.

My targets for the next few months are to improve my skills in English and time management as I leave work too late sometimes.

Other targets are to collect work experience, collect CPD and to get in contact with admissions in some universities.

Hopefully with the skills I already have today and by enhancing some of them and collecting new ones I will increase my chances of getting into vet school and become a vet.

Self-reflection in maths and chemistry

This reflection is an update from my previous one and a marker to see where I have improved and what I have done since writing my last reflection to today in order to help achieve progression.  As mentioned before both maths and chemistry play an important part in the fundamentals module and it is key to have a good foundation in both these subjects, and to use this a foundation to build from in further studies and more complex modules at uni.

In my last reflection I mentioned that my weak spot in the maths side of things was the calculations. I remember at the beginning of the module I struggled with some of the maths calculations and problems because they seemed complex and I had not used my maths skills for over two years before hand. Some of the calculations confused me and I did not know where to start. This was because of the layout of the questions and because I had not seen any questions like this before or had to solve them in the past.  To help myself understand the maths calculations and try to be able to solve them easily I used a book called “core maths for the biosciences” (Reed, 2011) This book was recommended by the teachers I class and was also available on loan in the university library. I found it useful as it had maths problem in it which were then explained and broken-down step by step. This gave me an understanding of how to tackle and solve problems that are given to me in class in the future.

In the last semester I have learnt not to be disheartened or become negative if I can’t solve a question, but instead to come away from it; have a break and put my mind a rest and them come back to the same thing with a different strategy and in a new light.  This is because people get so overworked over solving a problem they get frustrated and use them same strategy time and time again even though it wont work. (McLeod, 1989)

Chemistry was one of my weak spots during the begging of the first semester because I had not done any work on it since my gcse level studies at school and even then, found it more challenging because of its in-depth nature. If we look back at my first reflective piece we can see that I found it very daunting at first and struggled with the molecular and bonding sides of chemistry.  I mentioned I wanted to spend some time doing personal studies around this area to try and get myself up to scratch and ready for when things progressed in the module.  Since writing my last reflective piece I have managed to use some of my time to study and try and learn more around lessons to become more comfortable in myself.  Again, like the maths a good book was mention and recommended by the teachers for learning and self-teaching chemistry for this module. The book was available at the uni library for loan. I found it useful as it very good illustrated pictures which helped me to understand things better seeing it in this light. Molecular chemistry was explained nicely and bodning too, it was all broke down into bitesize pieces which helped me understand it better when next mentioned in class. (Crowe and Bradshaw, 2014)

Although I had a good book and found some good websites I could use for my personal studies on chemistry I found that I was not very good at time management and would always delay and avoid doing any studies in this area. I looked up ways to control and set up a time management programme in order to sort resolve this issue and hopefully improve my studies. I set aside scheduled slots of time for certain things and made sure when I was studying I was away from distractions and in the right frame of mind. There is no point going to study when you are stressed over tired or when your glued to your favourite series or social media. (PsycNET Record Display, 1990)


Looking back over the last semester I can see how I have improved in both maths and chemistry. I have been able to solve maths problems very quickly and easily by then end of the semester which I would have previously struggled with. Now I know not to overthink the problems when I first see them, and I can figure out where to start in solving the problem and what calculations to use; I m now confident and have little issues with my maths skills for this level of my studies in my course. Looking back at my chemistry progression I can also see an improvement, I no longer seem to daunt it and feel a lot more comfortable with it. Using my free time to pick up my weakness in this has benefited me and using time management plan has allowed me to put more time aside for studding and allowed to me to explore my potential.



Targets for the future are:

  • to continue with personal studies and try to find more in-depth resources rather than just the books mentioned in class or basic websites.
  • To continue using time management plan and excel in self-taught things
  • To try and maximise my studying and read up before classes so as to be ahead and maxims learning in class
  • To continue solving maths calculations so as not to challenge myself become rusty in the future and start over again.





Crowe, J. and Bradshaw, T. (2014) Chemistry for the biosciences: the essential concepts.

McLeod, D. B. (1989) ‘The Role of Affect in Mathematical Problem Solving.’ In Affect and Mathematical Problem Solving. Springer, New York, NY, pp. 20–36.

PsycNET Record Display – PsycNET (1990). [Online] [Accessed on 10th January 2018] /record/1991-13852-001.

Reed, M. B. (2011) core maths for the biosciences.

Lab Report

DNA fingerprinting using PCR


DNA fingerprinting is a technique based on PCR amplification and restriction of DNA strands. (Vos et al., 1995) This method is used in forensics today and this practical is based on that. The method is helping solve murder and rape trials and convictions today as DNA of high molecular weight can be isolated from blood or semen of up to 4 years old. (Gill et al., 1987) The experiment being carried out is based on the use in forensics and we are going to try and match the suspect to the crime scene. We are however going to be using a pre-made kit with DNA samples in.


  • To carry out an experiment based on DNA fingerprinting using PCR and DNA amplification; using a ready-made kit with crime scene and four suspects.


  • To make our own gel for the electrophoresis stage of the practical.


Materials / Equipment:

  • DNA fingerprinting kit
  • PCR machine
  • 5x PCR tubes
  • Fine pen
  • Micro pipette
  • EdvoBeads
  • Centrifuge
  • Ice block
  • Distilled water


For making gel:


  • TBE buffer
  • Agarose powder
  • Microwave
  • beaker
  • Heat proof flask
  • Balance
  • Weighing boat
  • Conical flask
  • Gel mould and comb
  • Distilled water
  • spectrophotometer



The fist step of this practical was to get the samples of DNA ready for the PCR. We had the kit and had to complete a list of steps. There was four suspects DNA and then one crime scene, so we had to have five PCR tubes labelled for this and ready in an ice block for loading.

The second step was to put 20 ul of a primer mix from the kit into each tube and then to put 5 ul of each suspect DNA into the corresponding labelled tube and the same for the crime scene. We did this very accurately using a micro pipette and made sure to change the tip each time so not to contaminate anything and mess up the results.  After each tube was loaded an EdvoBead was added to each one and the tubes were gently flicked in order to dissolve the bead.

The third step was to centrifuge the tubes to collect samples at the bottom of them. Each tube was loaded correctly, and a sixth tube filled with water to match the weight of the others was added as a balance to make sure the centrifuge was weighted evenly.

After the centrifuge the tubes were ready to be loaded into the PCR machine. The PCR takes a while, so it gave us time to make our gels for the electrophoresis.

Making the gel:

The firsts step in making the gel was to weigh out 0.25g of agarose powder by using a balance and weighing boat.

Second step was to rinse the powder out of the weighing boat using the TBE buffer into a conical flask. The buffer was already measured to the right amount.

After both the powder and buffer were in a conical flask it was microwaved for 2 minutes, once done it was took out using the heat proof gloves so as not to burn yourself and then gently stirred to fully dissolve the powder.

The flask was then left to cool and once cooled to around 60 degrees 2.5 ul of safe view was added and the flask was swirled in order to mix it.

The gel was now ready to be put into the mould, it was gently poured in trying not to make any bubbles. Once loaded the comb was inserted in order to make the wells for loading at a later stage.  We used a 7×7 mould tray for the gel.

Once gel had set a diluted buffer was tipped over it, just enough to cover it.


The final step of the practical was to run the samples through electrophoresis using the gel we made. Once the gel was cooled and set we took out the comb and then was ready to load our samples.

Our samples at this point have just finished PCR and are put back into the ice blocks. 5ul of loading solution was added to each of the five samples in preparation for electrophoresis. Once this had been done 25ul of each sample was loaded into individual wells in the gel. A ladder was also added into one of the wells.

Once all samples were loaded in the correct order the lid was put over the electrophoreses chamber and the wires were attached and we ran it for thirty minutes. Once the time was up the gel was put into a spectrophotometer which produces an image for analysing and discovering the results.



Our results came as a picture produced by the spectrophotometer and we analysed it from what we saw. The picture is as shown below in figure 1.  Our results and the image produced however did not turn out as planned and wasn’t a very good representative as we couldn’t really see or make out what was going on. We worked out that we left the electrophoresis to run for too long meaning that the samples had run to far and the gel had got disfigured. We were unable to compare the suspects to the crime scene because of this matter.

Figure 2 shows a good example of what we hoped to achieve and what the results would have looked like of we left it to run for a shorter time. The figure clearly demonstrates how you can link the suspect to the crime scene as the bands will line up and show a positive correlation.


dna pic 2.png
(figure 2)      (FDRSummerDrugs – Nucleic Acids (HL), 2014)

dna pic 1
(figure 1)








From this practical I have learnt a lot; I have had to use many of my skills in order to complete it and get some form of result. The skills used were pipetting and weighing and I had to do perform these skills in an accurate way in order to achieve good results. The practical was a success and produced results meaning that my lab skills were proven to be accurate and that I did not contaminate any of the samples.

The negative was that the result was distorted, and we could not make up a conclusion of what suspect matched the crime scene. This was because we left the electrophoresis run for too long and it made the gel distort and the samples run of the end.

If I was to complete this practical again I would make sure to run the gel for maybe half the time so for fifteen minutes or I would use a longer gel mould to achieve a greater image to analyse. I would carry out the same skills and use the same equipment as I have not managed to find any issues or anomalies with the equipment or skills I used for other pars of the practical.



FDRSummerDrugs – Nucleic Acids (HL) (2014). [Online] [Accessed on 10th January 2018]

Gill, P., Lygo, J. E., Fowler, S. J. and Werrett, D. J. (1987) ‘An evaluation of DNA fingerprinting for forensic purposes.’ ELECTROPHORESIS, 8(1) pp. 38–44.

Vos, P., Hogers, R., Bleeker, M., Reijans, M., Lee, T. van de, Hornes, M., Friters, A., Pot, J., Paleman, J., Kuiper, M. and Zabeau, M. (1995) ‘AFLP: a new technique for DNA fingerprinting.’ Nucleic Acids Research, 23(21) pp. 4407–4414.


Osmosis is the diffusion of water or other solvents through a semipermeable membrane. First studied in 1877 in Germany it was discovered that water will move through a membrane to the area of higher concentration in order to dilute it. (osmosis | chemical process,)  A semi permeable membrane is a material that allows water and some other small minerals and materials but stops anything else passing through. Osmosis will always move solvents across the membrane from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration, see (figure 1) In the end the pressure builds up and the osmosis will stop through osmoregulation. (science clarified)

figure 1

Osmoregulation is a phycological process an organism uses to maintain water balance.  Mainly trying to keep concentration of body fluids outside of cells the same as it is on the inside. (Osmoregulation – Biology Encyclopaedia) This equilibrium helps to keep cells from either taking too much water and exploding or by letting to much go and shrivelling up.

Plant cells and animal cells are different so have different ways of comping with osmosis an osmoregulation. Plant cells have a thick cell wall and when places in a hypotonic solution the cell begins to swell but the cell wall prevents it from bursting. If a plant cell is put into a hypertonic solution, then the water from inside the cell will diffuse out and the cell will shrink. See (figure 2)

osmsis 2
figure 2

On the other hand, animal cells do not have this thick cell wall so when put into a hypotonic solution they can swell up ad burst. An organelle called contractile vacuoles are designed to prevent this from happening and they pump water out of the cell if this occurs. In hypertonic solutions water will diffuse out of the cell and the cell will shrink, however in animal’s cells are always surrounded by an isotonic solution which keeps equilibrium thus preventing the cell from shrinking. (The Effects of Osmosis)


The kidney is an organ an organ in which osmosis occurs, all mammals have kidneys and the function of this organ is to filter waste out of the blood.(How Your Kidneys Work, 2014)  Osmosis occurs in the kidneys and this helps to maintain and regulate salt and minerals in the blood. The first step is when molecules such as salts, urea, glucose and water diffuse from the glomerulus into a liquid within the bowman’s capsule. This is then all passes on to the proximal tubule, loop of Henle and then the distal tubule. There are loads of capillaries surrounding these three parts known as a nephron. See (figure 3) Water moves out of the tubules and loop on Henle and into the more concentrated are inside the capillaries.  If water is needed to be conserved even more then a hormone ADH is released; it makes the walls of the collection duct permeable to water so that it can be diffused in order to conserve. (Passive Transport)

osmosis 3
figure 3

Osmosis is being manipulated and used within industries to overcome issues in the world today. According to (Shaaban and Yahya, 2017) reverse osmosis is a technique that is currently considered the most reliable for brackish and sweater desalination. Hot countries such as Egypt require large amounts of desalinated water and the study being carried out by (Shaaban and Yahya) investigating the performance of reverse osmosis plants in hot climates. Fresh water can be obtained limitless supplies by desalinating seawater. Reverse osmosis was deemed the most effective way of producing freshwater however its disadvantage was that it needed a big energy supply.  Recent studies and investigations into this area of reverse osmosis and the industry have risen due to global energy crisis. The aim is to find and create a way of using less energy in reverse osmosis by using new technology. 



How Your Kidneys Work (2014) The National Kidney Foundation. [Online] [Accessed on 5th December 2017]

osmosis | chemical process (n.d.) Encyclopedia Britannica. [Online] [Accessed on 5th December 2017]

Passive Transport (n.d.) The Kidney! [Online] [Accessed on 5th December 2017]

Shaaban, S. and Yahya, H. (2017) ‘Detailed analysis of reverse osmosis systems in hot climate conditions.’ Desalination, 423, December, pp. 41–51.

The Effects of Osmosis (n.d.). [Online] [Accessed on 5th December 2017]….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..16.13.965.0..0i24k1.88.hoHSv4wBvyQ#imgrc=cPLcPmEf9Pw4LM: